Maca powder is a dietary supplement made from the maca root. The root grows in Peru and is said to have some health benefits. The Incas have long since resorted to the plant and its healing properties.
It is also an integral part of the diet in Peru and is considered a staple food there. This article examines the origin, production and effects of the root. Attention is paid to objective reporting and scientific sources are cited to document the facts.
the essentials in brief
- Maca is a root originally from Peru. It is said to have healing effects and has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years.
- The types of root is divided into four categories. The Yellow Maca, Red Maca, Purple Maca and Black Maca.
- The ideal dosage of Maca is 3-4 grams per day. This amount should not be exceeded, otherwise health problems may occur.
What is maca powder?
Maca is a plant that is also known as Peru ginseng. Strictly speaking, maca is a tuber and belongs to the cruciferous family. The tuber is used for its effects such as lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. The Incas used it to increase concentration and strength.
The taste of the tuber is very intense and is described as earthy, nutty and with a light caramel aroma.
In addition, many athletes use Maca to support muscle regeneration. Maca has 325 calories per 100 grams. This content can be compared to that of a normal potato. However, the protein content is significantly higher, which makes the root very interesting for athletes.
Where does maca powder originally come from?
Maca originally comes from Peru. There it grows in the Andes and at an altitude of over 4000 meters. At these altitudes, the tuber has to withstand very harsh weather conditions. These range from high UV radiation and strong winds to rapid temperature fluctuations.
Maca root is a plant that grows in Peru. It has been used there for thousands of years for its healing properties. (Image Source: Pixabay / Siobhan Dolezal)
The plant grows up to 20 centimeters in height. However, this part of the plant is only ornamental, since the effect of the plant arises from the root. The Incas incorporated maca into their cuisine as an essential food. Maca can be enjoyed in the form of porridge, sauces or baked as a whole tuber.
How is maca powder obtained?
Maca powder is an extract obtained from the maca root. After the roots have been harvested, they are spread out on tarpaulins next to the fields to dry. After about 10 days, the dried tubers are weighed and packaged.
The packaged tubers are taken to production facilities for further processing. There they are sun-dried again. After the tubers have undergone a final UV drying process, they are washed and disinfected for further processing. In the last step, the roots are crushed in a grinding machine and the tubers are processed into granules. After a final check, the product is then delivered.
What types of maca powder are there?
The maca root is divided into four different varieties. The first type is yellow maca, the second is red maca, the third is purple maca and the last type is black maca. The different varieties of the root have individual effects and can be consumed individually or mixed as mixed maca, depending on requirements.
How to dose maca powder for the right effect?
The dosage of Maca powder depends on the desired effect. For example, if you take the powder during menopause, 2 to 3.5 grams should be enough. In a depressed mood, a dose of 0.5 to 3 grams is ideal.
If the powder is consumed for regeneration and in combination with sport, then an amount of 2 to 3 grams is recommended. 3-4 grams of maca powder per day is a recommended dosage. In principle, however, a dosage of more than 6 grams per day should be avoided.
Otherwise, it can lead to stomach pain, bloating, indigestion, hyperactivity and headaches. Nevertheless, maca has no toxic effect on the human body and can be consumed in large quantities without any damage to health.
How does maca powder work?
The Maca root is said to have some effects and healing effects. But which effects are scientifically proven and which are not? These and other questions about the effect are clarified in the following sections.
How does maca powder work?
There are four different types of Maca. Varieties are distinguished by their color and include:
- Maca Yellow
- Maca Red
- Maca Violet
- Maca Black
The different types of Maca have different effects on the consumer depending on gender. Yellow Maca helps, for example, during postmenopause but also generally as a mood enhancer. Red Maca prevents prostate enlargement and can also improve the chances of conception.
Violet Maca can be used mainly during the premenopause.
Black Maca is especially good for men. A higher sperm count, improved libido and more testosterone is possible. In general, taking it is also useful for improving mental clarity.
However, it is very important to underline that these effects are not all proven. Some of the effects are attributed to the plant or shaped by the importers of the product in such a way that they no longer have much to do with the statements made by the farmers living in Peru.
How long does it take for maca powder to work?
In a study testing the effect of maca on sexual behavior, subjects consumed a daily dose of 1.5 grams. This amount had no effect on the subjects. After the dose was increased to 3 grams, an increase in desire could be noticed.
Maca can be taken for symptoms before, during and after menopause. It is also said to increase desire and relieve depression. (Image Source: Pixabay / Ajale)
However, this onset of action was not acute, but rather developed over time. After taking 3 grams daily, a clear effect was only noticed after a month. After 2 months, the response rate even doubled.
What do studies and science say about the effects of maca powder?
Science is divided on the effects of Maca. There are some effects that have been proven, while other effects have not been scientifically proven.
The following study examined the effects of maca on postmenopausal women in terms of depression and lowering blood pressure. 29 women were given a daily dose of 3.3 grams of Maca or placebos. All of this took place over a period of 6 weeks. The results were no differences in terms of hormones between the test groups. Nevertheless, the blood pressure in the Maca group was significantly reduced, as was the level of depression.
Another study tested the effect of maca on sexual behavior in men between the ages of 21 and 56. The subjects received a daily dose of 1.5 grams, 3 grams or a placebo. The period was 12 weeks and regular interim tests were carried out. After just 8 weeks, an increased sex drive was noticed. However, testosterone levels in the placebo group were the same as the normal group.
Is Maca Powder Harmful?
Basically, Maca is not harmful. Oral consumption of the root in the form of capsules or in food has not caused any serious negative consequences for consumers. Nevertheless, taking Maca is not recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
In addition, Maca should not be consumed if you suffer from hormone-sensitive diseases.
These include breast cancer, endometrial cancer, endometriosis and ovarian cancer. The diseases mentioned can be aggravated by the addition of estrogen and the production of estrogen can be promoted by maca.
What alternatives are there to maca powder?
Now that you know the effects and production of maca powder, you may have realized that you prefer a different product. For this reason we have provided you with a summary of the various alternatives.
The first alternative to maca powder is wheatgrass powder. It contains a variety of important vitamins and has a high iron content. The effects of wheatgrass powder are anti-inflammatory, strengthening of the immune system and normalization of cholesterol levels.
The acai berry is one of the so-called superfoods. It is said to help against diabetes and arteriosclerosis. However, many of the properties attributed to it have not yet been proven, as studies on this have only been successful in cell cultures and animals.
MSM is an abbreviation and stands for methylsulfonylmethane. It is a form of organically bound sulfur. Which is an essential and vital component of the human body. For example, it is a component of enzymes that are responsible for producing energy in cells.
Ginseng is a root that is taken for weakness, tiredness and lack of concentration. In addition, ginseng is said to increase potency and alleviate depression. However, this has not been scientifically proven.
In conclusion, maca powder is a very powerful and nutrient-rich food. The daily dose of 4 grams should not be exceeded, otherwise unwanted side effects may occur.
The root can be used to increase sexual desire and to support postmenopausal women. Nevertheless, there are some effects of maca that could not be clearly confirmed, such as an effect on hormone levels.
- Gonzales, G. Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 193496.
- Beharry, S. Heinrich, M. Is the hype around the reproductive health claims of maca (Lepidium meyenii Walp.) justified? J Ethnopharmacol . 2018 Jan 30;211:126-170.
- Dording, C Fisher, L Papakostas, G Farabaugh, A Sonawalla, S Fava, M Mischoulon, DA Double‐Blind, Randomized, Pilot Dose‐Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the Management of SSRI‐Induced Sexual Dysfunction 13 August 2008 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00052.x
- Stojanovska, L. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal Climacteric Volume 18, 2015
- Gonzales, Cordova G, Vega A, CHung K, Villena A, Gonez A, Castillo C, S. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men andrologia . 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72
- Meissner, H. Hormone-Balancing Effect of Pre-Gelatinized Organic Maca (Lepidium peruvianum Chacon): (I) Biochemical and Pharmacodynamic Study on Maca using Clinical Laboratory Model on Ovariectomized Rats Int J Biomed Sci. 2006 Sep; 2(3): 260-272.